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12:48 pm December 30, 2009, by Brian O'Shea
Atlanta's Peach Drop in 1999. Ten years later, that 800-pound peach is ready to drop again. AJC file photo
2013 Peach Drop New Year’s Eve at Underground Atlanta
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January 1st, 20102:02 pm
Jamie, I agree that perception versus reality can have a wide chasm. However, Atlanta needs to try and correct its’ image problem. You mention your daily interaction with panhandlers. The number one complaint by Atlanta tourist is the panhandling. It hurts Atlanta economically. Remember when NASCAR decided to locate its’ Hall of Fame elsewhere because of the image of downtown Atlanta. Some of the comments after the decision derided NASCAR as being for hicks; so who needs it. We need it and the tax revenue that all businesses generate. We have charities in place for those who are down on their luck. You can’t help but feel sympathy for the homeless and people going thru hard times. However the homeless sleeping on benches and the panhandlers asking for money is our biggest image liability. Enforcing the vagrancy laws would have the same effect as putting a new coat of paint on your house. It doesn’t mean that the plumbing works but it sure looks nice.
January 1st, 20101:01 pm
Terry, it’s a worthwhile question, but I can’t answer for everyone here. My personal experience, as someone who works downtown, uses public transportation to come downtown and often attends special events downtown, has not included serious or violent crime. I do experience panhandling almost every day, but I have no problem walking past, saying no and moving on. I know my comfort level for types of places and situations, and I think it’s important for others to know theirs as well. I don’t begrudge anybody saying they won’t go X for X; I have a much harder time with people who push that view on others based on inaccurate information or perceptions created without experience.
Still, you’re right, downtown Atlanta has an image problem. First, I think there are disparities in what people think of as “downtown.” Sometimes, that includes Buckhead, or the AUC, or East Atlanta, or the Old Fourth Ward, or Castleberry Hill, or Midtown. Sometimes not. Each of these areas are remarkably unique, and have their own issues. To lump them all into one heading is a disservice.
Second, I feel the image of “downtown” often has more to do with perception than reality. I hear often from people who claim all downtown businesses have failed, that violent crime is rampant, that downtown empties when the office workers head home for the night, that there’s nothing to do. There are examples of all of those things — and depending on your interests, indeed, you may not find anything fun to do downtown — but the issues are not so extreme as some make them sound. Bad things happen everywhere; so do good things. We will always be disappointed and unprepared if we believe absolutes that say nothing good or nothing bad ever happens [insert place here.]
And this is, of course, my own perception, rooted in my own experience here and in other cities. I’m still relatively new to the city, but I think it’s far from hopeless. I hope others haven’t written it off already.
January 1st, 201010:08 am
Great weather, A way to welcome in the New Year with a few of our wrold’s 6 plus billion people. May we live in peace.
January 1st, 20108:27 am
I understand that this article is not the place but why is it that Atlantans seem to have the attitude that if you don’t like the crime and panhandling that comes with being downtown; then don’t come. New York has completely changed its’ image by cleaning up the area. Why is it so hard for Atlanta to do the same?
December 31st, 20096:49 pm
You tell ‘em, Jamie!
Atlanta New Year’s Eve: share your experiences in the comments! | Inside Access
December 31st, 20093:49 pm
[...] Peach Drop family activities have been running downtown all day, and music will start in a few hours. [...]
December 31st, 20093:38 pm
East Coast: There wasn’t a shooting in 2006. According to the AJC archives, there were two shootings in 21 years at the Peach Drop; both were considered accidents involving celebratory gunfire, which is a horrible New Year’s tradition that happens many places, I’m sad to say. The last such incident occurred in 2005. Everybody can make their own decisions about how, when and where they feel safe, but Peach Drop does not have as bad a history as you seem to think.
Bob: I choose to live here because there’s a lot of fun stuff to do, an interesting history to learn from, wonderful people and neighborhoods and a transit system that works for me. I don’t feel it’s more dangerous or crime-ridden than other large cities, but I understand, too, that others simply aren’t as comfortable in any city. I hope you have a great time at the game, and in whatever you decide to do after.
December 31st, 20093:17 pm
I’m from out of town and going to the Chik-Fil-A bowl. I was planning on heading to the Peach drop afterwards but after reading up on how dangerous the area is I think I’m stay away. Why do all of you people live in such a dangerous city? Why put up with all of the crime and panhandling?
December 31st, 20092:46 pm
Yeah right – there wasn’t a shooting in 2006 , and the Underground is a safe and secure location to be at night. I am also sure that those who are responsible for the recent crime in the area will all be staying home tonight so no need to be on edge about armed robbery!
December 31st, 20092:12 pm
To be clear: there were 175,000 people at last year’s Peach Drop, and no reports of serious crime during the event. I understand the crowd, location and recent crimes downtown put people on edge, but it is incorrect to suggest that the Peach Drop has a steady recent history of violent crime.
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